When you ask me, Where do you come from?
how do I answer? How does anyone?
All of us sound different on my street.
In each of us, so many of these crossings
– and in this city, so many crossings meet.
Say ach y fi. Say bore da. Say croeso.
(from ‘The Unicorn’, The Bridle, 2011, Salt)
25 years ago London said croeso to me. I’ve been a ‘Welsh-sounding Auckland pakeha’ , a ‘Kiwi-sounding East Anglian’, a ‘rural-sounding Cambridge undergraduate’, a ‘posh-sounding Forest of Deaner’. I’ve been ‘Welsh’, I’ve been ‘English’, I’ve been ‘Wenglish’. I’ve been a ‘tomboy’, I’ve been’butch’, I’ve been ‘femme’, I’ve been ‘straight’, I’ve been ‘bi’, I’ve been ‘queer’. However I’ve chosen to identify – however hazily, with whatever imperfect knowledge, (and no matter that these days I find these identity labels for myself less and less helpful and don’t bother with them*) – London has made room for me.
We’re all descended from migrants if you go back far enough. Why wouldn’t we welcome more of our own?
(* but that’s my privilege speaking, of course, that I can evade them.)